A new study from the US has made the somewhat obvious link between alcohol marketing on the internet and teens boozing it up illegally.
The data looked at results from a 2011 survey of about 2000 youth, ages 15 to 20 years where participants answered questions about their recollections of having seen alcohol ads online and how this affected their behaviour regarding alcohol.
Almost 60 per cent said they had seen alcohol advertising online and 13 per cent recognised at least one of five brand websites. Six per cent said they had been to a brand website and three per cent were online fans of an alcohol brand.
The following year, a follow-up survey was conducted, which revealed 55 per cent of participants had since drunk alcohol, and 27 per cent said they had engaged in binge-drinking.
Kids who reported some engagement with the alcohol advertising online in the first survey were about 80 per cent more likely than others to have started binge-drinking by the second survey, according to the results.
It comes as another US study claims e-cigarette ads are reaching 70 per cent of kids, prompting more teens to use the devices and threatening decades of progress in combating youth tobacco use.
Stacks of research in the last decade has illustrated the prominent impact that alcohol advertising has on impressionable teens, Dana Litt from the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington told Reuters Health.
“The interactive nature of internet activity and the sheer amount of alcohol-related content online have led researchers to suggest that these forms of media can be particularly influential sources of alcohol messaging,” she said.
“One of the fundamental concepts of interactive online marketing is engagement, where the goal is not simply to expose consumers to a particular product, but to create an environment in which they are actually interacting with the brand, ‘befriending’ the product, and integrating it into their personal and social relationships.”
“One thing parents can do is work with their teens on media literacy techniques to help them view ads critically. For example, discussing who created or paid for the ad, what the ad is targeted to do, and whether the ad shows the full range of alcohol-related consequences.”